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Social Security Disability or SSI for Degenerative or Hereditary Neurologic Disorders

     Individuals may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for hereditary or degenerative neurological disorders. Affected people may qualify under the Listing 11.17 of Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 or under Step Five of the sequential decision making process because of their reduced Residual Functional Capacity resulting from the neurological disorder.

Listing 11.17 reads as follows:

Degenerative disease not listed elsewhere, such as Huntington's chorea, Friedreich's ataxia, and spino-cerebellar degeneration. With:

A. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B (11.04B Significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station (see 11.00C)); or

B. Chronic brain syndrome. Evaluate under 12.02 (Organic Mental Disorders).

     For instance, assume a forty-eight (48) year old person diagnosed with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). The patient has treated for a period of time with a neurologist having consistent treatment records of pain, difficulty with ambulation, and shaking of the legs throughout the day. Further the individual has an "obviously spastic gait" and an inability to tandem walk. In this instance, the records should be sufficient to satisfy the 11.17 listing in the Code of Federal Regulations.

     In addition to the listing, the claimant could be found disabled because his residual functional capacity is such that he would be unable to perform even sedentary level work. In determining whether a successful adjustment to other work can be made, consideration must be given to the residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience in conjunction with the Medical Vocational Guidelines, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart B, Appendix 2. If the claimant can perform all, or substantially all, of the exertional demands at a given level of exertion, the Medical Vocational Guidelines direct a conclusion of either "disabled "or "not disabled" depending upon the claimant's specific vocational profile. SSR 83-11. When the claimant cannot perform substantially all the exertional demands at a given level of exertion and/or has non-exertional limitations, the Medical Vocational Guidelines are used a framework for decision making unless they are ruled to direct a conclusion of disabled without considering the additional exertional and/or non-exertional limitations. SSR 83-12 and 83-14. If the claimant has solely non-exertional limitations, Section 204.00 in the Medical Vocational Guidelines provides a framework for decision making. SSR 85-15. If the claimant has a residual functional capacity to perform a full range of sedentary work, considering the claimant's age, education, and work experience, a finding of "not disabled" would be directed. However, if the full range of sedentary work has been significantly compromised, the Vocational Grid Preamble, Sect. 201.00(h) of Appendix 2, Subpart B of Part 404, provides that a finding of disabled is not precluded for even younger individuals. Thus, the additional limitations or non-exertional limitations can create a substantial erosion of the sedentary occupational base so there would not be significant numbers of jobs existing in the local regional or national economies, which the claimant could perform.

     In this situation, the individual would be unable to perform sedentary level work (sit for six hours per day, stand and walk for up to two hours per day, and frequently lift up to ten pounds per day). Thus, for this individual, he could meet either the Listing or the Vocational Steps of the Social Security Administration's decision-making process.

     If you or a loved one is suffering from a neurological syndrome or other serious condition that prevents employment, then please contact our office through our website or at 865-584-1211 or toll free at 800-806-4611 for more information regarding benefits available. If you have applied and/or have been denied for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, please contact us regarding questions or representation. We do not charge or recover a fee unless you receive benefits.

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The Law Offices of
Tony Farmer & John Dreiser

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Knoxville, TN 37909

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